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January 21st, 2016

A lot of businesses are still mystified as how to measure just what kind of value they are truly getting from social media. Because it is a medium that is still evolving, it can be hard to understand just what works and what doesn’t when it comes to social media and measuring its value. In fact, it’s not unusual to see so-called experts contradict themselves. Don’t worry if you are unable to totally understand social media value. We’ll break down a few things for you.

Social media is important for your business and it can have a great deal of value for your company if utilized correctly. Of course measuring this value is an imperfect science. While we don’t have a magic formula to help you figure it out, we do have a few things for you to consider when it comes to estimating it for yourself.

Followers matter but…

...they are not the end all be all when it comes to your social media efforts. When social media first started, it was all about how many followers you had. In the eyes of consumers, more followers equaled more credibility. However, that sentiment is no longer a prevailing thought among consumers and the number of followers you have won’t make or break your organization.

However, having a lot of followers does still reflect well on your business and it also gives you an easy way to reach your target audience directly. This is where it becomes important to monitor things like average clicks, the number of clicks the page you shared got, and conversion rate - the number of people who clicked on your share that turned into a sale or lead. If you have 100,000 followers but don’t get clicks, then your social media doesn’t hold a whole lot of value. The next point comes in handy if you’re having trouble monitoring all of these.

Simplify the way you monitor social media

A lot of businesses make a simple mistake that convolutes the way they estimate the value of social media. That mistake is failing to create unique campaigns and contact points for each social media channel. Doing this can make it difficult to determine just what leads and sales are coming from which media. Here’s an example for you. Your business shares a link on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a page on your website where people can download a free report. You get 150 people to download which is good but it can be hard to determine just where everyone came from to download the report unless you have advanced tools like Google Analytics at your disposal.

That’s why for every promotion or pitch page on your website that you share via social media, you should create a distinct URL for each one so you can easily monitor where people are coming from. This will help you understand what kind of value each of your social media channels has. You might also want to consider creating a separate phone number for each social media channel so that way when a person does call, you will know where they came from. This option is especially easy and cost effective to implement if you have a VoIP phone system in place.

Set social media goals

Without goals in place, it’s pretty hard to figure out the value of anything including social media. If you already have social media goals established, then these are probably the place to start in determining the value of your company’s social media. If goals have not been set up, you are going to want to create some and see if your company is able to reach these. That’s because the easiest way to determine if something has business value is to establish if it can help your company reach its goals. If you see that social media isn’t doing this, then you’ll need to reconfigure your strategy accordingly. If social media is adding value, then you will want to dig deeper using different tools to get a better idea of just what that value is.

If you aren’t using social media to add value to your business, then you are losing out. And if you aren’t utilising technology to assist in these efforts then you are really falling behind. Talk to our experts today to see how you can get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 19th, 2016

Productivity_Jan19_AIf you think the idea of working from home sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Since the advent of the Internet, many business owners are open to the adoption of telecommuting, a strategy that allows their employees to work remotely in order to save commuting costs and time while increasing productivity. But of course, working from home can pose a few challenges of its own. In this article we’ll go into details as to how you can work productively at home.

One of the major concerns that business owners have when allowing people to work from home is the limited amount of control they have over their staff. Companies fear that most employees might become unproductive if they become their own boss and are responsible for managing their own hours. While it is easy for remote employees to feel disconnected from work, if you make communication a top priority, telecommuting can actually work wonders.

So have you been given the privilege to work from home? Check out the following tips to ensure a productive day.

Get dressed

It’s important not to dress too casually when working at home. That’s why wearing your pajamas while working can be counterproductive. There’s no need to choose an overly formal attire - like a suit with a tie - but at least wear something comfortable yet presentable that will help you get into a work frame of mind.

Create a focused workspace

Select a workspace that’s neither too comfortable nor uptight. The best method to get into the mindset of ‘going to work’ is to create an environment that allows you to easily focus on the tasks at hand. This can be a room with a door to keep out family members, or simply a space that’s free from all sources of distractions such as your smartphone, snacks, or the television. But in the end, it all comes down to personal preference - do you enjoy working in a clear space, or a cluttered chaos? Would background music distract you or help you concentrate? Do you like working in a bright environment, or prefer a dim area? Take these into consideration before choosing your workspace.

Plan ahead

The secret to working more productively is to have an organized plan of action. Write down the plan so you can prioritize tasks properly and schedule what needs to be done and when it must be completed. Also, it’s always helpful to know your most productive hours. This is so you can schedule your most challenging tasks during those hours and set aside easier ones in your least productive periods.

Stay away from social media

Social media is considered by many as the biggest time and productivity killer. So if your duties don’t involve managing your company’s Twitter account or responding to customers’ requests via Facebook inbox, you should steer clear from these social networking sites. There are many applications out there that allow you to block social media websites and notifications, but of course you wouldn’t have to resort to such measures if you can exert some self-control and discipline.

Invest in technology

Another thing to consider about working from home is the technology to help you work easier, such as a second monitor. Sometimes you will also need certain tools to stay connected to your company, clients, and colleagues. These tools may include but are not limited to web conferencing software, document sharing applications, or screen sharing programs.

These tips will turn your home into an office that will keep your working hours productive and disciplined throughout the day. If you’re looking to implement IT solutions that will encourage a more productive work environment, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
January 14th, 2016

Productivity_Nov30_AWe all experience those days where we feel like we’ve been super productive and have managed to check off a bunch of tasks from our to-do list. But if you feel like these days are few and far between and you’d like to up the ante on a more consistent basis, it’s time to adopt a new approach to productivity. Whether you need to get organized in your personal or working life, laying down ground rules for yourself and considering the following tips could work wonders.

When it comes to business, competition is fiercer than ever: you might have rivals undercutting your prices, you could be a bricks and mortar store pressurized by internet-based sellers, or perhaps you’re struggling to get a grip on your processes, marketing plans or even employees. By upping your efficiency stakes, working in a more agile fashion, and simply getting more work done more quickly, you could find that you’re holding the key to solving your problems.

Your issues with productivity might be personal, or they may well stem from your staff. As a small or medium-sized business owner or manager, you can’t afford to sit back and let your own inertia or disorganization, or your employees’ lack of dynamism, drag your company down. Take action and start getting to grips with your workload and help your business get 2016 off to a far more efficient start.

Take time out first thing

Okay, admittedly taking ‘time out’ sounds counterintuitive for increasing productivity, but hear us out. By taking a few minutes at the start of every morning, you’ll be getting the day off to a calm and orderly start, thereby increasing the chances of you being more productive, as opposed to running around like the proverbial headless chicken for the rest of the day.

Part mindfulness and part preparation, begin by emptying your head of any thoughts. Be in the moment and spend a minute or two breathing deeply. Next, consider the things most playing on your mind in relation to what needs to be done either today or in the near future. Jot them down on a piece of paper, followed with a short outline on how you are going to tackle them. Then set your mind to going forth and making those resolutions happen, one by one.

Quit multitasking

Some reports say that multitasking can negatively impact on your productivity by as much as 40 percent. When we’re taking on more than one task at a time, the perception is that we’re killing it productivity wise and getting loads done. The reality is that we’re spending the majority of the time jumping from one thing to the next and not fully focusing on any of them.

You need to exercise willpower to commit to ‘singletasking’ but before long it should come as second nature. Pick one thing that you are going to work on and stick to it until you have finished, or at least done everything you can for the time being. This includes not checking your email during that time – surely one of the biggest productivity sappers of all time. If the temptation is too strong, log out of your inbox on your computer, and set your phone to silent if you have audible alerts configured. If you’re worried you’re going to overlook something during this time period, use an online or physical notepad to note down spur of the moment thoughts or ideas.

Reassess your working hours

It’s no secret that the traditional 9 to 5 is on the way out. Being connected and contactable around the clock is putting paid to that, but is being constantly online actually counterproductive? How effective are you really at 11pm at night when you’re slumped in front of The Walking Dead with a beer and a spreadsheet full of data?

Take a tip from the latest round of startups that are taking a sledgehammer to the idea that we need to work around the clock, and are instead turning the working week on its head. The CEO of one rising startup has gone as far to institute a five-hour workday that runs from just 8am to 1pm, taking into account that studies show people are more productive earlier in the day. The theory goes that making people sit in an office for 8 hours a day, whilst giving them ample time to be productive, equally gives them just as many hours to waste time. A shorter working day could instill a greater sense of urgency in employees, who in turn respect the company’s consideration of their personal lives and work harder.

Depending on your business, changing your working hours may not be practical, but it could still be food for thought - and adopting a singletasking approach and planning your day ahead calmly and clearly is achievable and will never hurt.

If you’d like to find out how implementing better IT and more efficient procedures can help you beat the productivity blues, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
December 25th, 2015

Satisfied man holding two money bagsOne of the biggest, buzziest phrases making the rounds in corporate circles at the moment is “big data”. But what does big data actually mean? What is it and, more importantly, what can it do for your business or organization? The good news is that it’s not just another tired old buzz word that actually has very little meaning (“pushing the envelope”, we’re looking at you!) Using big data within your company can actually help you increase profit. Let’s take a look at how.

So, we’ve established that big data is causing a stir and creating a buzz in companies that are in the know. In fact, it’s become hip to bandy about the phrase whenever one is trying to impress their boss, senior management or fellow co-workers. But like any lingo or jargon that is currently cool, it really doesn’t count for a whole lot if it doesn’t mean anything, particularly in the workplace.

The good news is that, unlike some of the more hackneyed expressions thrown around by those colleagues that are so desperate to impress their seniors, big data does actually mean something. And, more to the point, it can help your business thrive. Big data can help you achieve that end result that everyone in business is chasing: profit.

This is why big data is trending so sharply at the moment - after all, every owner or manager of a small or medium-sized business wants to grow their bottom line. Times are hard in many industries: increasing competition from abroad, the threat of the internet to bricks-and-mortar stores, a difficult economic climate - the list goes on. But what if something as simple as using your business’s data could push you heads and shoulders above the competition, and help turn around that downwards or flatlining arrow on your sales chart and point it upwards in the direction of success?

But before we get to that; what actually is “big data”? Why is it big? Well, we may have said that using data to grow profit is simple but, in actual fact, it’s really not as easy as all that. Big data is used to refer to various sets of data that are so huge and so complex that the traditional methods of processing data are virtually useless. Database management tools and other processing applications become redundant and are just not up to the task of capturing, storing, searching for, sharing, transferring, analyzing, and visualizing data.

Instead of looking at separate small sets of data, big data - as the name implies - looks at larger sets that contain far more information. This enables anyone analyzing the results to cross-check the sets and pinpoint trends, both positive and negative, across the entire business. As a result, owners and managers can make more informed decisions that affect the company in a more beneficial way than is possible by merely looking at small, isolated sets of data.

Big data therefore plays a valuable role in strategy and planning, and also helps troubleshoot worrying or problematic trends that threaten the performance and profitability of the business. Put simply, using big data to assist in making decisions for your company is about being able to see the bigger picture (to use another tired corporate buzz phrase). Decisions made with all the facts at hand will naturally help increase revenue, as opposed to blindly feeling in the dark and making changes to one area or department that may negatively affect another.

There are a number of ways that you can use big data analytics to make better decisions and increase profit. Crucially, it allows you to see what really makes your customers tick. Nowadays many businesses offer different ways for their customers to communicate with them. From email to a website, to phone calls and human interaction, all of these present you with meaningful information about your clients’ behavior. Knowing what your customers rely on you for, how they interact with you, and where they may hesitate or stumble when using your services, provides a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be mined. However, a lot of this data is unstructured and therefore cannot be analyzed using traditional means. That’s where big data comes in: it can help you uncover the information you need to really understand your customers.

Of course it goes without saying that a deeper understating of your customers can help you grow your customer base, increase repeat business, heighten customer loyalty, and reduce bounce rates and the number of dissatisfied customers. But that’s not all - analyzing this data will allow you to develop new products or services, create stronger, more effective marketing campaigns, and create an all-round better experience for the people that matter most – the people you serve.

Want to learn more about big data, and find out how it can have a seriously positive impact on your business’s revenue? Talk to us today - we have the knowledge and experience to help you really get the most out of your company’s intel.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 25th, 2015

Productivity_Dec25_AIs there anything worse than an unproductive meeting? The feeling of those minutes and even hours slipping by you as you sit ‘brainstorming’ with co-workers, only to leave the room with a big fat nothing. The frustrating part is that, when run effectively, meetings can result in great ideas, and can add huge value to your company. But how do you make that shift from pointless meetings to productive ones? That’s where Do.com comes in. Here’s how to make the change in your organization.

We all know that an unproductive meeting is bad for business. Wasted minutes turn into wasted hours, and wasted hours turn into wasted days - and so on. Not using any of your team’s time effectively - whether they are the COO or the receptionist - is a big waste of money, simple as that. On the other hand, you know that meetings are essential for regrouping, hashing out new processes, gathering feedback, brainstorming marketing strategies, and simply touching base. But if, over the years, your company’s meeting culture has gone from energetic and idea-generating to stale, uninspiring, and - dare we say it - downright pointless, it can be hard to turn that around.

The good news is that there is a way to swing the pendulum back in the other direction, so that you can begin holding meetings that are productive and, crucially, that STAY productive. And that’s by using a software platform called Do.com. Do’s purpose is to help companies of all sizes start running more productive meetings, and it has already been adopted by well-known clients, including tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Do aims to help make meetings enjoyably productive, too – after all, whether we’re a high flyer at Microsoft or the owner of a local law firm or beauty salon, we all feel good when we are contributing something useful. So, if you’ve noticed that, every time a meeting is held in your workplace, a groaning line of worker ants clutching iPads and notepads heads begrudgingly towards the meeting room, this could be your chance to turn things around and re-energize your employees. If you do it properly, you’ll get some great ideas for moving your business forward at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!

So what does Do actually DO to make meetings more motivating and productive? For a start, it helps structure them more effectively, so that more time is spent getting to the point and less time is spent discussing weekend plans, or moaning about other departments or staff. Do gives you the tools to properly manage agendas, notes and actions, as well as allowing you to share files that are needed for discussion. It also features a timer, which turns red if you overrun, so that you can set limits as to the amount of time devoted to a topic – ideal for reigning in those debates that go round in circles but never actually end up getting anywhere.

The founder of Do, Jason Shah, has stated that his goals with the platform are to “bring three central themes to every meeting: structure, transparency, and automation.” To help facilitate this, Do is geared to bringing an agenda to meetings, thus putting the end to directionless and ill-prepared attendees. It allows the meeting organizer to easily import notes from previous meetings, and upload relevant files or documents. This is something that will save huge amounts of time in the average workplace, where meetings are generally accompanied by a shuffling of notes and people going to print out forgotten documents, or to email the group mid-meeting. That’s probably not the kind of thing that Steve Jobs tolerated with any degree of patience!

Do also prioritizes eliminating the “so what do I need to do again?” factor that so often follows meetings, by centralizing information pertaining to the subject, as well as highlighting follow-ups and outcomes. The software prompts the meeting organizer to assign discussed tasks to a specific person, who then receives an email and push notification outlining the task, as well as a link to a dedicated meeting page, where further information can be found.

With other features that aid prioritization of tasks, plus analytics that give managers an overview of how their team, department, and indeed the whole company are spending their time in meetings, it’s little wonder that Do’s client list boasts some pretty high-profile companies. As well as Apple et al, other adopters of the platform range from social media big-hitters Facebook and Twitter to other tech clients including Dropbox and Salesforce. Consumer platforms, such as Netflix, Spotify, Uber and Airbnb, are also onboard - as are Disney, Domino’s Pizza, the NBA, and certain sectors of the US government.

It’s probably safe to say that these clients like the way that Do.com can be integrated with other tools and software such as Office 365, Google Drive and Docs, and Evernote. In fact, Do even considers its competitors to include other cloud-based productivity platform providers like Google Apps, Evernote, Dropbox, and Trello. However, Do.com has the edge on all of those by virtue of its meeting-centric approach. You may use Google Docs to work on a task after a meeting, but Do.com walks you through the whole process, from agenda to follow-up and subsequent meetings.

Although adopted by major players such as Apple, Google and Disney, Do.com is for use by companies of any size – including yours! If you want to learn more about productivity, including how to install the tools and how to instill the culture within your company, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
December 23rd, 2015

BusinessValue_Dec23_AWe all know that data is valuable. After all, the more we know about the inner workings of our business and how our customers behave, the better. But knowing that data is crucial in helping to move your organization forward, and knowing exactly how to use that information to do so are two very different things. Here are some ways to overcome the hurdles and add real value to your business by harnessing the power of data.

Many small and medium-sized businesses shy away from data analytics due to the perceived complexities of dealing with the myriad of facts and figures. A head for figures is something many of us lack – and, even if you have no problem with the math, there’s the time involved in setting aside a part of your busy schedule to track your analytics.

But the sooner you embrace your data, the sooner you can start adding real value to your business through this extremely valuable, and often untapped, source. But just how does a smaller enterprise actually set about doing that? After all, even the most humble of mom and pop stores or home-office-based entrepreneurs has access to an often bewildering array of trackable metrics.

The key point is that, if data is to be of any value, it needs to be easy to collect, collate and analyze. There’s no point spending half your working week mired in incomprehensible spreadsheets and charts if you can’t extract useful information and then apply it in a meaningful way that meets your end goals.

When thinking about analytics, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Not only that, but the vast majority of business owners would much rather spend their working lives filling dental cavities, laying flooring, solving legal disputes or selling fitted kitchens - whatever your own particular specialist skill might be - than learning about and trying to apply data analysis techniques. That’s where an analytics dashboard can help. These take the hassle out of unearthing all that data, and present your metrics to you in a more understandable format. But with an array of different tools to choose from, what should you consider if this is the route you decide to take?

  • How easy is it to use? There’s no point investing in a dashboard solution if you don’t understand the way the data is presented to you; you still won’t be able to apply it in any meaningful way.
  • How deep will the analysis go? You’ll likely want to be able to track trends, compare results over time, and chart your success.
  • Is the data easy to apply? You want your dashboard to simplify the application of data within your business environment, and make it easy for you to take action.
  • Does it save you time? If you’re currently spending frustrating hours sifting through reams of facts and figures, this is a huge consideration. You need your dashboard to supply pertinent information in an easy-to-read format.
  • Is it compatible with other programs and apps? If you’re operating an online store, you will want the dashboard to work with your POS and shopping cart. You may also want it to track website analytics and social media engagement.
Once you’ve decided on a data analytic dashboard, how do you know which metrics to look at? Every business will differ depending on their industry and individual needs or challenges, but there are a couple of points you will want to bear in mind.

Look for data trends To make the leap from looking at data to making plans and actually doing something, you need to highlight your most important metrics and use them as something to action. Let’s say you find it hard to retain customers; you know this and your data backs it up. Clearly you’re not doing enough to ensure your customers return. That could indicate you’re spending too much time and money on attracting new clients. Now you can take action: do you need to improve your customer service or offer more products or services? Create a marketing plan that targets past customers by telling them about something new or by offering them a discount.

Analyze your past customers Now you have easy access to data that shows you your best selling products or services, your peak selling periods, and more. This will help you get to know your customers far better, track their behavior, and plan ahead when it comes to adding services, buying inventory, or preparing for busy spells.

Whether your aim is to attract new customers, retain old ones, expand your offering, or discern whether opening a new location is a viable option, your data will prove to be an indispensable friend. After all, customers may come and go – but your data will always be there for you.

If you’d like to learn more about adding value to your business with data analysis, or want to explore data analysis dashboard options, get in touch with us today - we’ll be happy to advise you on the options best suited to your needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 23rd, 2015

Blogging has gone from being a fun side project for aspiring creatives to an absolute necessity for businesses of all sizes. For many companies, especially small to medium-sized ones, it’s likely to be just about the only web page that is updated with any regularity on their websites. And that’s why you need to be pushing your blogs. With hard work and engaging content, you can morph your company’s blog from afterthought to valuable asset that brings in people to your site.

Do any of these sound like your blog?

Sporadic posts often months apart A once vibrant blog that is now nothing more than digital tumbleweeds blowing by A page that says “coming soon”

We’re not here to judge. However, if any one of these scenarios resembles the current state of your blog, it might be time to do something about it. We know you’re busy and that the last thing you want to do is write about your business but, with content that is carefully crafted and curated, your company will have an unique asset that can help lead your marketing, by establishing you as an expert in your field, and promote sales efforts by driving people to your website.

You’re probably wondering where to begin. Well go ahead and reset the password for your WordPress or Tumblr account, because we have a few pointers to help you get started.

Use your blog to build your brand identity

For small and medium-sized businesses, it can be difficult to build a brand identity. You have your logo and colors, but what does your brand consist of beyond that? What is its personality, what characteristics does it have, and what is its tone? These are just a few of the questions you need to consider before you begin writing your blog posts, or having someone else write them for you, of course, which is a good option for busy business people.

A blog that reflects the personality of your business helps to give you a brand identity in the minds of readers by letting them know just what your company is. A hardware store is most likely going to want the contents of its blog to be straightforward, reliable and no-nonsense, while a marketing company is likely to have a blog that shows off its creativity, playfulness and skill at design and wordplay. This is your chance to develop your company’s identity, and explore just how you wish to be perceived by online readers.

Tip: Before starting to write posts for your blog, picture your business as a person, and write down what this person would say and how they would say it. This should be used as the foundation for each and every blog post.

Create a strategy and schedule for your blog

A clearly defined schedule and game plan for your blog will help make sure that once the ball starts rolling, it keeps rolling. Your goal from a scheduling perspective should be to have at least one new post a week. More is always better, but weekly posts will at least let both readers and Google know your site is still active.

In terms of a blogging strategy, don’t feel like every post needs to be a second coming of The Odyssey. Sometimes all you need to do is come up with a quick tip, or share a video you think is useful to people visiting your website. Varying the the length and type of content featured on your blog is a good way to keep things fresh.

Tip: At the start of each month, you should come up with blog topics and a deadline for each post. This should help make sure content is always going up on your blog.

Lead and inform, but do not sell

One of the biggest challenges for small and medium-sized businesses with a blog is to keep the content related to your company without putting on the hard sell. Realistically, the goal of your blog should be to point people in the direction of your business without pushing them into buying something. They should be able to reach that conclusion organically.

Let’s use an auto parts store as an example. A blog on the quality of the windshield wipers it sells is unlikely to generate a lot of interest. That’s because it is not something that resonates with a lot of people. A post on the dangers of driving with old wiper blades, however, will help get readers more interested in investing in new blades. And the good news for them is that they can purchase new wiper blades right, without even having to leave your website.

Tip: In addition to creating informational posts, don’t be afraid to add blog posts about your employees, especially if you do not have dedicated staff pages on your website. This can enable people get to know the names and faces behind your business, and help potential customers to feel more comfortable with your company as a whole.

You made it to our blog, so there must be something to this whole blogging thing. Get in touch with us if you want to know more about how blogging, or any other technology-related tools, can help add value to your business. And of course, feel free to keep reading our blog while you’re here!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 19th, 2015

164_A_ProdTechnology can bring a world of productivity and ease to your business, but it also comes with many disadvantages. If you don’t use technology wisely, it can become a constant distraction that prevents your business from moving forward. So how can you use technology more effectively? And what are the IT issues that are holding you back? Let’s look at four of them.

Broken Flow

To grow your business, boost profits, and create a valuable product that people will love, you need to develop an extreme amount of focus. Psychology refers to a process known as Flow, where the brain gets into a positive psychological state and people not only become incredibly productive and creative, but also perform at their best. They achieve both quicker and higher-quality results. In fact, a study by the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company revealed that top executives were five times more productive when they were in a state of flow. So what does this have to do with IT? Technology that constantly breaks or malfunctions will prevent you and your employees from getting into a state of flow.

Distraction

Let’s face it, broken technology is a distraction for many small to medium-sized business owners and their employees. And between the daily onslaught of internal email, social media, and meetings, staff are already distracted enough. If you throw faulty internet connections and servers into this equation, it obviously makes the problem even worse. One researcher from the University of California even found that once an employee is interrupted from their original task, it can take around 23 minutes for them to return to it. That adds up to not only a whole lot of wasted time, but also wasted money. Do your business, yourself, and your employees a favor: get your technology working seamlessly, because it’s one less distraction for your staff to deal with. An MSP can help.

Lack of expertise

People are most productive when they focus on what they do best. If your staff is not equipped to handle your IT problems, they shouldn’t be dealing with them. And if IT issues are killing your productivity on a daily basis, then your tech department is likely understaffed or not knowledgeable or effective enough to handle your problems. This is where an MSP can come in. MSPs focus on cleaning up IT issues for dozens of companies day in, day out. This is all they do, and that means they are specialists. So why not hand off the chore of technology to someone who knows what they’re doing? Then you can focus on what you do best: managing, leading, and growing your business.

Email

As already mentioned, email is undoubtedly a distraction that is a bane for many modern-day businesses. Email can consume you and your employees’ day if you let it. So doesn’t it make sense to try and get it under control? A few ways you can do that include checking your email only at specific times of the day, unsubscribing from email lists that you don’t often use, and signing up for email and spam protection with your local MSP - who can help you keep the unnecessary emails out of you and your employees’ inboxes.

If you’re interested in learning how an MSP can help resolve your technology problems, get in touch with our experts today. We have a staff of seasoned professionals who have the singular focus of making your technology run seamlessly. And we’re ready to help your business become more productive.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
October 12th, 2015

BusinessValue_Oct12_ACreating an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for your business’s website is a must if you want to establish a solid online presence. While this concept is nothing new, it is often overlooked by businesses. They resort to crude SEO practices that, far from being efficient, actually get their website into hot water with major search engines. With that said, you need to avoid falling victim to these common SEO mistakes.

You skip the keyword brainstorming phase

This is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make in your website creation plan. By not spending time on researching relevant keywords from the start, you are missing out on the opportunity to potentially generate a large amount of traffic. Without a comprehensive keyword list in hand, you will find it hard to add more keywords as your website grows and gains more authority.

Your content has too little or too much text

There’s no fixed formula when it comes to the length of your content - the number of words can vary greatly depending on your audience and the type of your website. The general rule of thumb, however, is to write content that is valuable for your visitors. Make sure your pages only contain relevant information, and don’t try to cram text just to put more copy on the page, because search engines will have a hard time identifying relevant content.

You’re using black-hat SEO techniques

It may be tempting to go after cheap practices that promise quick results, also known as black-hat SEO techniques. These methods include keyword stuffing, hidden keyword text, link buying, and so on. Some of these techniques may actually work, but only in the short run. Search engines are aware of black-hat schemes, and are continuously improving their algorithms to weed out websites that don’t abide by their guidelines to deliver the best user experience. So it’s best to focus your efforts on building a clean and stable SEO strategy.

You’re expecting quick results

Success doesn’t come easy in the SEO world. Ranking high in search results necessitates spending a substantial amount of time and effort. Don’t expect to earn a position on the first page of search engines immediately or overnight, because it will likely take months to see results. Be patient, and focus on creating great content and abiding by SEO best practices.

You’re not using blogging as a strategy

Most businesses don’t really have the chance to update their website often. Why? Because they can’t really update their “About Us” or their service pages as frequently as they would like - so their websites are just going to stand there dormant and outdated. The problem with this is that search engines don’t like inactive sites. If you have a blogging strategy, however, you have the opportunity to add a page, or pages, to your site at least once a month, if not once a week or better yet daily! The more new pages you add to your website, the more chance you have of getting higher rankings, which translates into more traffic and more leads.

Your website has an inefficient structure

Without a good website structure strategy, you’ll have a hard time trying to organize new categories, as well as information and promotional pages. Having a bloated and scattered site structure won’t do you any good when it comes to SEO, because you’ll only make it harder for visitors to navigate around your website.

You’re not going responsive

Search engines are now taking responsiveness into account when determining rankings. A responsive website adapts its page layouts to fit all screen resolutions and sizes, whether it’s being viewed on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can greatly enhance the user experience and decrease bounce rates (the percentage of visitors who leave the website after visiting only one page). So if your website is not mobile-friendly, then it’s time to seriously consider a responsive design.

There are so many factors involved in search engine rankings, some of which are beyond your control. The important thing is to avoid making these SEO mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to online success. Want more SEO tips and techniques to add value to your business? Get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 14th, 2015

Productivity_Sep14_AWe’re all in the same boat - a million and one things to get done, and seemingly never enough hours in the day to fit them all in. But technology can come to your aid and, by using the best productivity tools you can find, you’ll add valuable minutes and hours to your workday. That all adds up, and you’ll quickly discover there’s more time to squeeze in the strategic tasks that so often fall by the wayside, but which are so crucial to defining the future direction of your business. Here are four tools to start using if you’re not already.

Google Alerts

Every business wants to keep track of what others are saying about it and, in this modern age where the likes of blogs and social media rule the roost, it’s more important than ever before. In an ideal world you’ll pick up on positive references to your company, and will be able to share these to enhance your good name further. But of course, every so often even the world’s best companies suffer a blip, and in those scenarios reputation management becomes a question of damage limitation, proactively responding to negative feedback, and putting right what harm has already been caused.

Yet doing all that manually is a real time-drain, if not next to impossible to do effectively - just think of all the websites you would have to scroll through to check for mentions of your company’s name, all the while knowing you’ve not even really scratched the surface. Thankfully Google Alerts relieves the pain of this crucial task; the tool allows you to set up alerts for specific terms, and receive an email notification when something crops up that you ought to know about. It can save you hours and enable you to do more justice to your reputation management efforts than you considered feasible.

Chrome to Mobile

If you’re like the vast majority of modern business people, you’re never sat at your desk for very long. That means you’re not always able to use your desktop computer, and probably have to do what you can to make the most of time spent traveling, between meetings and so on. Yet truly being productive during those down periods necessitates having access to the same materials you have when you’re in the office; that way, you’re actually contributing to clearing your overall to-do list rather than just picking a random task to work on so that you’re at least getting something done.

The Chrome to Mobile extension for Google’s signature web browser allows you to quickly transmit to your phone all the web pages you’re currently viewing on your desktop or laptop. When you’re away from your desk, you can pick up right where you left off without any interruption - no more emailing yourself links to everything you’re working on, and then having to open it all afresh on your phone or tablet. If you know you’re going to be away from a reliable internet connection for a while, you can even opt to send an offline version of those pages, so you can continue working regardless. You just need to have a mobile device that runs Android 4.0 or later, or have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that has Chrome installed.

Pocket

The inclination to keep too many tabs open in your web browser is practically a chronic condition among business professionals, symptomatic of us trying to get too much done in too little time, and never really finishing one task before moving onto the next. Whatever the cause, it’s something lots of us have to deal with every day; we all stumble across news articles, blogs and other online resources that are infinitely useful to us, but which we don’t have the time to stop and act on there and then.

Pocket solves that problem - this simple tool allows you to save content that you find online to one central place, so that you can go back to it with ease when the time is right. It will save you from needing to keep those hundreds of tabs open until you have a spare moment to go back and plough through your reading list (or more likely until you decide is enough is enough, and close all the tabs to stop them slowing down your computer any further - and in the process you lose all that valuable information without keeping a copy).

Rescue Time

If you’ve ever wondered how much time you waste between tasks while you’re reading your email, updating your social media, checking the news and so forth, then Rescue Time could be the answer to your curiosity - even if you might not actually want to know the truth! Once you activate Rescue Time on your devices, it will track how long you spend not only on different websites but also in the various computer software applications that you use on a day-to-day basis - whether that’s Microsoft Word, Photoshop or Sage.

This helpful little program sends you a regular email report detailing how many hours you’ve logged in total - discovering how long you routinely sit at your computer can be revealing in itself - along with a breakdown of the percentage of time spent on various work- and non-work-related tasks, and an overall ranking for your productivity. It even sets you goals, for example to spend less than two hours a day on what it classes as non-productive activities (which you can customize to suit your line of work, since it’s hardly fair to penalize yourself for being on Facebook if that’s a key part of your job).

Are you ready to use these tools, and other intelligent technology, to streamline your workflow and get more out of your day? Give us a call and see how we can help you put IT at the forefront of a more efficient approach to business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity